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wood two inches thick in 100 years; therefore a mass of wood such as I have spoken of would take at least 1 million years to grow, and a corresponding time to be turned into coal. It is of course probable that the growth of the primæval flora was much quicker than that of the present, and the process of carbonization may have been much more rapid in the primæval ages than is possible under present circumstance; but the intermediate strata in which the coal is imbedded must also be considered. Herodotus had heard from the Egyptian priests that the mud-beds formed by the Nile below Memphis hardly increased by a yard in 100 years ; recent investigations have shown that the increase is only from three to four inches. Now as the bed of the coal, slate clay, is one of the finest mud deposits known, the deposit of this stratum seems to require periods of time which it makes us giddy to think of. The time it must have taken to form one single stratum seems to us simply infinite; if we reckon it according to ordinary rules, what then must have been the total of the whole ?” And now take the opinions of some other geologists. “It would not be too much to suppose that millions of years must have been required to form the different series of strata which we find in the mountains containing coal. But we must remember that the data on which these calculations are founded are taken from our climate, and that with unusually luxuriant vegetation, such as must necessarily have existed during the coal period, the production of carbon by means of the carbonic acid in the atmosphere must have been very much greater.” 1 But as geologists are always referring to the long periods which must have elapsed during the formation of strata as if they had proved the existence of those periods with mathematical certainty, I may in oppostion to their exaggerations quote an observation which Göppert makes when discussing the transformation of vegetable matter into coal by means of damp: “No one can calculate even approximately in how long a period all these formations took place. I have seen vegetable matter changed into peat in a year and three-quarters by immersion in water which was nearly boiling, and cloth which was exposed to steam changed into shiny black coal in six years; and I venture to remind those who think to lend a greater interest to their geological statements by talking of millions or billions of years, of these long since acknowledged facts.” “We cannot decide how long a time was required for the deposit of a stratum of a certain thickness. If we would calculate it according to the rate at which strata are now formed at the bottom of the sea, it must have taken thousands of years to form a stratum a foot thick. But this mode of calculation seems to be extremely uncertain, as on the one hand accurate measurements are still wanting, and on the other local circumstances exert the greatest influence on the rate of the formation of strata.” 1
1 Bischof, Lehrb. etc., 2nd ed. i. 746, calculates that the vegetation which produced the material for the Saarbrück coal measures must have taken 1,004,177 years in growing, he adds, however, “according to another estimate, 672,788 years would have been required.”
i Vogt, Lehrb. der Geol. ii. 311. • Wagner, Geschichte der Urwelt, ii. 561. According to an account in the Köln. Zeitung for Aug. 18, 1874, some pieces of wood which had been nailed together, and were at most 400 years old, were found in a mine near Clausthal completely changed, not only outside, but also inside, into peat, which contained considerably more carbon than do most recent peat beds.
We can therefore only estimate with any certainty the relative, not the absolute age of the separate strata ; that is to say, we can ascertain the place of a stratum in the whole series of stratified formations, and decide whether it is older or more recent than another; but we cannot say how much time has elapsed between the beginning or the end of the formation of that stratum and the present time. At any rate we cannot give it in numbers, not even in round numbers; but unless geologists are wholly wrong, we must assume that very long periods of time have elapsed since the first appearance of animals and plants on the earth.
I have thought it necessary to put together so much of the teaching of modern geologists, in order to be able to compare the Biblical narrative with what are, or are said to be, the results of palæontological inquiry; for it will, I hope, be clear to you from the description I have given that all that is asserted is not absolutely proved.
1 Vogt, Lehrb. der Geol. ii. 337.
GEOLOGY AND THE BIBLE ACCORDING TO THE LITERAL
INTERPRETATION OF THE SIX DAYS.
I have already observed in a former lecture that it is not necessary in the present day to refute the theory that all fossils were caused by the Deluge. But still I must examine thoroughly an attempted reconciliation, which rests more than any other on that theory, between the results of palæontology and the statements of the Bible.
In addition to the theory that only six actual days elapsed between the first act of divine creation and the creation of man, the following opinion is held by several modern savants, and in Germany especially by Keil, Veith, and Bosizio. They believe that all kinds of plants were created on the third day, all kinds of animals on the fifth and sixth days of the week of 1 Lecture XIV.
Genesis, p. 9. Zeitschr. für luth. Theol. 1861, p. 689. I could not obtain Keil's treatise on Die biblische Schöpfungsgeschichte und die geologischen Erdbildungstheorieen, which was published in the Theol. Zeitschr. Dieckhoff und Kliefoth, 1860, p. 479. This theory has also been supported by Sorignet and C. B., Geology, etc., and others (cf. Zöckler, Gesch, der Beziehungen, ii. 470); and by the Capucin P. Laurent, Etudes géologiques, philologiques et scripturales sur la Cosmogonie de Moïse, Paris 1863 (cf. Revue des sciences eccl. 1864, p. 334), by V. M. Gatti, a Roman Dominican monk (Institutiones apologetico-polemicæ, etc., Rome 1867; cf. Revue cath. 1870, t. 4, p. 198), and by the Abbe H. Rault, Cours élementaire d'écriture sainte, Paris 1871, i. p. 143 ; see Theol. Lit.-Bl. 1872, p. 545. Baltzer criticizes the arguments put forward by Keil, Bosizio, and Veith in his Bibl. Schöpfungsgeschichte, p. 202 seg.
creation. The fossils, therefore, are all remains of the plants and animals which have existed since the creation of man, and the formation of all fossiliferous strata must be traced to geological events and catastrophes which have occurred since the Fall. The Deluge was one of the principal causes, and the theory that the Deluge was the original cause of all the fossils was only incorrect because it did not take into account the catastrophes which occurred before and after the Deluge, and the regular geological developments which have taken place since the time of the creation. All that geologists say about the different flora and fauna of different periods is mere fancy ; only one kind of fauna and flora has existed, that created in the week of creation. The fossil plants and animals may be included in the classes and orders of the present creation. No doubt the vegetable and animal world is not quite the same as it was in the beginning; many kinds and species died out in ancient times, and are only known to us by the fossils. The fact that fossil remains of existing species have not been found mingled with the fossil remains of extinct kinds and species in many strata, is due partly to the imperfection of our knowledge of the earth's crust, and partly to accident. Men of science have not yet decided, however, whether the species of plants and animals are capable of change, and how far this is the case ; it is at any rate possible that the ancestors of our animals and plants were the very fossil animals and plants which palæontologists believe to have belonged to different species.
· Veith, Die Anfänge, pp. 101, 351, 353 seq. Prophezie und Glaube, p. 33 seq. Bosizio, Das Hecameron, p. 328.